Rutland has a new ‘cyber beat’ police officer - who will be available to interact with local residents at the click of a button via Facebook and WhatsApp.
The county already has its own dedicated teams of neighbourhood officers who patrol the streets, chat with residents, and respond to local concerns.
From Monday, those teams will be joined by by cyber beat police community support officer Matt McDade.
Leicestershire Police will run the pilot project will for 12 weeks, during which time PCSO McDade hopes to chat with hundreds of Rutland residents, answering queries and providing advice, help and information.
He said: “In many ways, I will simply be performing the role of a traditional neighbourhood officer – but online instead of up and down the street.
“What the cyber beat project hopes to provide is an additional way for people to talk to us and to discuss the issues that are affecting them locally.
“My cyber beat is open to anyone who lives in Rutland and I hope that it proves an easy way for people to chat to me without having to step outside their homes.”
Inspector Gavin Drummond added: “We’ve developed cyber beat to provide better policing services for the communities which Leicestershire police serve. The intention is to use digital communications channels to connect with our communities.
“Society has changed dramatically as a result of new technologies, and for many people their ‘community’ is not particularly a geographic one but something that exists online.
“More and more we conduct a lot of our daily activities online – from banking to shopping and general communication, talking to friends, colleagues and loved ones.
“Cyber beat will help us to respond to these societal changes and provide a really easy way for people to chat with their local officer.
“The purpose is not to replace traditional, physical policing in our neighbourhoods, but instead to provide an alternative and additional community service.”
The Rutland Cyber Beat can be accessed from 9am on Monday, September 12, by following PCSO Matt McDade on Facebook, Twitter or by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org
A second cyber beat will be launched on September 30 aimed at residents in the eastern part of Leicester city centre. It will be run by PCSO Ben Hill.